Ranked Choice Voting

Julie, my blogging and Facebook friend, posted this article about a different way of voting and electing. Here is a clip from it:
A simple election reform, the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting, could open up the process and allow for real choices in states across the country. Under Ranked Choice, voters don't just tick the name of one candidate and walk away. They rank the various candidates—first choice, second, third, fourth and so on. If their first choice finishes out of the running, their vote is reassigned to their second choice.
I find this voting methodology to be compelling. Applying it in hindsight might have altered the outcome of close elections. The 1992 presidential election might have gone a different way if Ross Perot's votes could have been counted by Bush. And you have to wonder how Ralph Nader's votes would have affected the outcome of the 2000 Bush v Gore contest.

Looking back, I can remember several times when there was a compelling third party candidate but voters cast ballots for a Democrat or a Republican because they did not want to "throw away their vote". I think that this system of "Ranked Choice" voting could address these situations and possibly better express the "will of the people".

What do you think? Could this kind of system work? Would you endorse it?


  1. It would certainly make elections much more interesting! However I can also see mass confusion and calls of foul play too. I do like the idea, Bob, but the question is "Can the American public acclimate to such radical change?"

  2. This is what we have in Australia -- only here we call it preferential voting. Both systems have their problems -- one that we have here is that a vote that hasn't filled out all the numbers is invalid. personally I like optional preferential (or whatever they'd call it in America!!) -- you MUSt put in number one, andafter that you can fill in as few or as many preferences as you choose

  3. @crownring - I think that it would be worth a shot.

    @Lynne - thanks for sharing that. Good to know that something like this has been shared on such a large scale. I agree with your assessment - should not have to complete anything passed the initial choice.

  4. Bobm heard about another idea that I like as well.

    Line 1: You vote for the candidate you like.

    Line 2: Would you prefer if another vote were held with all new candidates?

    If line 2 gets more than 50%, neither of the party candidates get to run again. (The thinking is that this would cut back on negative advertising.)

  5. @Ed - If I am understanding that correctly, it seems that option would keep the incumbent in office as line 2 would win every time and the incumbent would never be replaced. :)

  6. @ Bob. Actually, its the opposite. Say incumbant and challenger on ballot. Incumbant wins, but most people say they actually hate them all -- then new election scheduled, and neither incumbant or challenger allowed to run.

    Like in Nevada, you can vote "none of the above" -- but few people do because they feel they would be wasting their vote. This way, you can state your preference, then vote none of the above!

  7. @Ed - But what if all vote for neither in the ensuing elections. Seems that it would be difficult to quickly schedule elections and the incumbent would be in office until an election was rescheduled and someone was actually voted in. Sounds like a logistical nightmare.. but maybe I am not understanding.

  8. There are similar ranked voting algorithms out there and often are used in informatics systems. I think they are very good ideas for voting although the downside is that these systems are a bit hard to explain to people who don't like math.

    It would definitely change the dynamics of our current two-party system and might allow more moderates to make it through (Moderates & centrists are often eliminated in the party primaries).

  9. @Argon - Good thoughts. I agree that communicating this to voters might not be all that easy.


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